Tuesday, July 24, 2012

This Vexes Me #17

I want to be an environmentally responsible person, I really do. I come from a family of reusers and we also had some hard times in the early 1970's where we had to make do. It's easy, so easy, to be sucked into the life of use and toss or use in an unsustainable way. Hence, I try to find recyclable or sustainable things for all those items that I find myself using.

One of the things that gives me guilt is that lack of recyclable plastic bags. I tried the cellulose ones, but, in reality, they are just going in an anaerobic landfill where decomposition is a joke. Think about it. If landfills were truly aerobic and items decomposed. The new stuff would be reducing the size of the old stuff. We wouldn't have huge mountains of garbage because the earlier layers would be decomposing. The cellulose based bags also don't hold up as well to the rigors of a sandwich or pepper slices stuffed into them, nor are they good for freezing.

I love freezer bags. For me, they are great for portioning out individual meal-size foods when I cook in batches. I make hamburgers, put them in a pile with each patty separated by two sheets of waxed paper and stick the whole thing in a freezer bag. Then, I take out just two patties to be nuked for supper. I buy chicken breasts in bulk and separate a meal into a bag. I put the bags of frozen veggies into another freezer bag so they don't tip and spill over the inside of the freezer. Pancakes are frozen just like hambugers and one bag will hold a couple batches of muffins.

The problem is they don't have a long shelf life. Rinse out the used one, air dry and it's probably got 3 to 4 uses in in before it has to be tossed. Enter the guilt at using up a valuable resource in petroleum. So, when I needed new freezer bags, I was gratified to see Seventh Generation had a box for a comparable price to Ziploc. There is, however, a huge problem with these.

They have a two tier closure. This makes for a very effective seal but getting them open has been nothing short of exasperating. It tears right before the first closure. I have a devil of a time getting both lines of closures open without part of the top tearing. Eventually, the top looks like this.

I tried starting at the middle, at either end or a little off the end. I tried rolling the bag to try to break the seal before I attempt to open the bag. Out of the 5 I have used, only 1 opened without tearing at any stage of use. If I get the bag open the first time, trying to open it to get food out resulted in the above. I was crushing cereal when this happened.

When the bag gets to this point, I have no way of separating the closures. It's a very tight seal but that doesn't help me when I want to get the item out of the bag. I have to resort to cutting the bag open. That hardly meets the needs of recyclability. I want to be able to reuse these bags, not one use and toss. If I have to resort to that, heck, I'll buy the store brand which is made from virgin materials.

Maybe I just got a bad batch. I have 50 of these to go through. I hope it gets better.

Beverage:  Darjeeling tea


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